Girl beats up Beezer!

STEVE BUFFERY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:08 AM ET

I showed up for class one day in journalism school (a miracle) and the horrified instructor asked what had happened to my face.

Genes, I told her.

No, she replied.

What's with that big, ugly shiner around your eye and the cuts and bruises on the side of your head?

"Somebody did a tap dance on my face," I said, trying to be clever in front of my classmates. (And yes, I stole the line from Animal House).

Truth was, a friend of mine beat the crap out of me outside of a pub at the University of Toronto.

Well, my life certainly has come full circle.

While no one has tap-danced on my face in years, on Wednesday, a dancer did slam me into the ground.

She also put me in a choke hold, kicked me, punched me and, well, pretty much had her way with me.

Yeah, that's right, she.

To be fair, Iona Kearns is more than a dancer.

She is a brown belt in karate, currently training for her black belt. She is also a former National Ballet School student and Opera Atelier performer who has studied jazz, Flamenco and Baroque dancing.

And, oh yeah, until recently she worked as a bouncer at a Toronto night club.

And she is about a month away from graduating from the University of Toronto with a degree in human geography and Celtic studies.

She is the real deal.

The only thing she doesn't have going is a mean streak.

Thank goodness.

---

My pal Ed Zawadzki, who is almost as well trained as his dogs Izzy and Wilbur, had been bugging me about giving the Twin Dragons a plug.

The Dragons, Toronto kick-boxing legends Mick and Martin McNamara, are putting on a show on June 3 at the Paradise Banquet and Convention Centre.

But rather than just fire off a few words the day of the fight, Zawadzki thought it would be a good idea if I did one of those first-person deals, where you actually get in the ring and experience the sport first-hand.

Now, I love martial arts -- boxing, judo, wrestling, any sort of combat sport. But it has been a few years -- actually, decades -- since I've put myself in a combat situation -- if you don't include the ex-wife hitting me over the head with a plastic kitty litter box.

But Big Ed assured me that he would find me someone who would not only not kill me, but perhaps even let me walk when it was all over.

So he matched me up with young Miss Kearns.

But before I climbed into the ring with Kearns, her Shihan, Alfie Della Terza, thought it would be a good idea to stretch me out.

Now, I've stretched a lot in my day.

When I wrestled, stretching was an important part of our warmup (when I wasn't goofing off).

But Alfie manipulated my legs and arms to places they haven't been in years. He kept telling me to breathe, to which I suggested to him that it was hard to breathe when you're on the verge of fainting.

He also flopped me on my stomach and proceeded to take his hands and loosen up my back, the resulting crack heard by an amused Zawadzki on the other side of the gym.

By the time Alfie was through, I was ready to go ... home.

But never one to back down from a challenge (particularly when people are watching), I jumped into the ring.

After the requisite bowing, Kearns proceeded to send me flying into the ropes with various karate kicks and blows, the biggest of which was to my pride.

And then, she showed me some jiu jitsu style moves on the ground. I would put her in a lock position while she was on her back and she would demonstrate how to get out of it, quite impressively I might add.

Then it was time for some throws.

Now, like I said, I wrestled for a few years and coached a high school team for a couple of seasons (good old West Humber C.I.), so I suggested that I show her a couple throws first.

Which I did, a fireman's throw and an arm throw.

Of course, neither was unfamiliar to Kearns, who then demonstrated her version of each throw, ending in a nasty collision between my back and the ground.

Her throws were better than my throws.

So now, I'm tired and sore, and Alfie announces that it's time for Kearns and myself to actually fight.

Great.

I get to fight a girl.

Talk about a no-win situation.

First of all, I know she's going to pummel me. Secondly, I'll probably never hear the end of it from Zawadzki, as well as Toronto Sun photographer Jack (The Scamp) Boland and videographer Dave Fuller.

For two rounds we went at it.

Early on, Kearns put me in a Kimura, which, I believe, is Japanese for "white man cry like big baby." Actually, it's an arm lock, which nearly forced me to tap out.

Later, Kearns put me in a head lock and all I can say about that is, the right side of my neck still hurts and I'm having trouble swallowing. At one point as Kearns slammed me to the ground, I looked up and saw Zawadzki cheering and waving his arms in mock battle.

Afterwards, I walked over and thanked him for his support.

"Are you kidding?" he said. "I was cheering for her."

---

When she was a little girl, Kearns dreamed of being a dancer and trained at the National Ballet School from age four until she was 12, at which point they didn't ask her back.

"They said I was too pudgy," she said. "So I started training at Opera Atelier."

She isn't pudgy now. About five years ago, Kearns followed two friends to a karate class and has never looked back. Karate was a perfect fit.

"Ballet was something I was really passionate about, but I always had a more muscular physique (than most female dancers) and I was always wanting to lift the guys, whereas they were struggling to lift me," she said.

"So I realized I should be doing something that better takes advantage of the strength I have."

For a while, Kearns balanced both dancing and martial arts, but two years ago she decided to devote herself strictly to karate and her studies at the University of Toronto.

"I showed up for ballet class one day with a black eye," she said.

"My teacher wasn't very impressed. So I decided that if I was going to give my full heart to something maybe it was time to move on."

Della Terza said the 23-year-old's progress has been outstanding.

The Dragons are hoping to get her on their June 13 kick boxing and mixed martial arts show at the International Centre.

As for the future, Kearns plans to get her black belt this year, travel to Ireland to immerse herself in the language and culture and eventually get her master's degree.

Me?

I plan to get a massage and hopefully reach the point where I can put my shoes on without any help from Bubba.

STEVE.BUFFERY@SUNMEDIA.CA


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